Damar Hamlin


Elie S., Layout Editor

   Amidst a Monday night game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals, Bills’ safety, Damar Hamlin, collapsed on the field after colliding with a Bengals receiver. Shortly after, a doctor performed CPR on Hamlin for 9 minutes. It was later released that Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and “his heartbeat was restored on the field.” In an awesome sign of connectivity between NFL fans and players, Hamlin’s foundation, The Chasing M’s Foundation, raised over $7,000,000, including donations by NFL teams and notable players such as Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford and Russell Wilson. However, this raises questions regarding the health and safety of NFL players and how the NFL should handle rescheduling games with playoffs around the corner. 

   Zach B. ‘24 thinks football is still a safe game and this instance was a one in a million occurrence. For example, each week about ten players get concussions, which are one of the worst injuries for players, but most of them are back within two weeks. In recent NFL memory (about 25 years), there have been only about three life threatening injuries that occurred to players during games. He mentions that “you can go into cardiac arrest in other occupations too, not just playing football.” In terms of scheduling, “[he] think[s] they have to play because it will mess up other teams [like the Ravens].” This would happen because the Bengals and Bills will have played fewer games, thus having a higher winning percentage but not a fair chance to have the same number of losses.  He poses an interesting question about what the NFL will do if they don’t reschedule: “What will [they] do? Just consider it a tie or give the Bengals the win since they were leading when the game was suspended?” Zach thinks they should play eventually but knows that rescheduling it to fit in before the playoffs will be tough. 

   Michael M. ‘25 believes that professional football is an aggressive game but remains safe. The game is “safer than it ever has been” and “the pads and equipment are much more advanced.” The NFL prioritizes their players’ safety more than any other sport because they know serious injuries like this could happen. Although the injury rate of football players is lower than other sports, the injuries that football players incur are typically more severe than other sports. The NFL Players Association (a labor union representing the players) has a strong voice, more than any regular player, advocating for players’ safety and mental health. They also provide solutions such as available mental health professionals to talk to players as well as allowing players to take leave if they believe their health is at risk. Michael M. ‘25, a person who often watches and studies the NFL, is stumped on what to do. He suggests playing the games (regularly scheduled week 18 games) this week. However, he recognizes that “if certain outcomes happen that would make it unfair for the Bengals and Bills (meaning they would be lowered in the standings), then [they] would have to find a way to reschedule that game to make it fair.”  

   Yoni B. ‘24 states “[he doesn’t] think football is or will ever be safe. [He] think[s] the NFL is really gonna have to think about the mental health among the players, especially after this event.” Many NFL players deal with different kinds of mental health issues because all they focus on is perfecting their craft for the game. They feel as if their health is not being prioritized, instead they are forced to play just so the teams and the NFL can make money. In agreement with this, Yoni brings up the point that “[the NFL players] don’t want to be dehumanized just because they are professional athletes.” In terms of rescheduling he says he “[doesn’t] know what to do; but, maybe push the Pro Bowl game after the Super Bowl to create an extra week for playoff games and so the Bills can play the Bengals.” Still, he acknowledges that “it’s very complicated and nobody ever expected anything like this to happen.”  

   Personally, I think the NFL made the right call at the time in postponing the game, but they should also figure out a way to play with the playoffs coming up, the most anticipated part of the season. I wish Hamlin well and hope nothing like this happens again. Nevertheless, the NFL needs to understand that it could and must be prepared if it does.  

   The majority of NFL fans who spoke on these issues agree that the game should be rescheduled, but only after Hamlin’s condition improves and the players have time to work on their mental health and recover from this crazy incident. Fans are excited for the rest of the season and pray that everyone stays healthy. 

   Now, Damar is continuing treatment in Buffalo, and is on track to play football again. A lot of credit is due to the on-field staff in Cincinnati who performed CPR to Hamlin after his incident and to the Doctors at University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where Hamlin stayed, for their incredible work. All NfL fans hope to see Hamlin back on the field at some point in 2023!